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Spectus Window Systems Helps Revolutionise Bedford High School

Published: 14th September 2012

As Bedford High School in Leigh, Greater Manchester, struggled to seat its 1,200 pupils – over a 45 minute lunch period and in a dining room built for just 240 – the only solution was to extend.

The school was established in 1976 with the merger of Leigh Boys’ Grammar School and Manchester Road Secondary Modern School, which were located next to each other. It immediately doubled its quota of pupils, who were all vying to be seated during lunch breaks. With only 45 minutes to get its pupils fed and watered, lunch times were becoming both uncomfortable and stressful due to a lack of space and time.

Budget constraints meant a full extension wasn’t an option, particularly as the school was quoted £250,000 for the work to be carried out. Premises manager, Ceri Jenkins, therefore went back to the drawing board and came up with a solution that would provide dining space for a further 400 pupils. His plan was to build an extension on one side of the existing dining room with a fabric canopy and three walled sides, utilising windows from Spectus Window Systems.

This more cost-effective method of providing the school with extra dining space also meant that the work could be carried out during the summer holidays of 2011, causing minimum disruption to the school and its pupils.

Commenting on the school’s lack of dining space, Ceri said: “Prior to the new dining area being built, pupils had to eat sitting on the floor or on the grass outside. It was chaotic and rushed, as pupils were struggling to get served and then eat within 45 minutes. In addition, we get a lot of rain here in Leigh so that caused an issue, as for most of the time, the grass as an eating area was off limits.

“We knew we needed extra space for some time but with quotes coming in at a quarter of a million pounds, it was also clear that we needed to think outside the box and come up with an alternative solution. Our original idea was just to erect a canopy at the side of the canteen to keep the rain off the pupils, but at the last minute we decided to add sides and create a room.”

Bedford High School contracted fabricator and installer, Tyldesley Windows in Leigh, to provide the windows, which sit over dwarf walls on all three sides of the new dining room.

Managing director at Tyldesley Windows, Mike Potts, recommended Spectus’ Elite 70 PVC-U window system for the extension. He said: “The school was seeking good value, high quality windows and Spectus’ Elite 70 fitted the bill. We fabricated 40 casement windows with laminated glass on the outside of the windows and toughened glass on the inside to meet safety requirements. We also used Spectus’ structural coupling mullion, which allows windows to be coupled together while enhancing their rigidity.”

With the canopy and metal supports costing around £43,000, building work including the dwarf wall, insulated floors, outside drainage, landscaping and access road at £70,000, and the windows at £30,000, Bedford High School was able to have an additional dining room – and classroom when not in use for eating – for £143,000, some £157,000 less than originally quoted.

The steel tapered trellis canopy on the dining room is constructed from 28 metres by 15 metres of hardwearing fabric membrane; both water and fire resistant if offers high light transmission with 60% penetration. Hot dipped galvanised trusses with powder coated beams and posts are six metres high at the top and drop to 3.8 metres at the eaves while the gutters and downpipes are made from aluminium.

“We’re absolutely delighted with the extension and the new windows, which make the room so airy,” Ceri continues. “We did consider timber and aluminium frames but having priced all the options up, PVC-U was the best value by far. The school must work to tight budgets so it was a no brainer. However, there were other added benefits in that PVC-U is virtually maintenance free when compared to the other building materials, especially wood, and of course it doesn’t need painting.

“We did have wooden windows elsewhere in the school and were forever replacing the rotten frames which was time consuming, disruptive and costly. Three years ago we underwent a major renovation of the external windows using PVC-U and were overjoyed with the results. A real positive is that in the winter there is now none of the usual drafts. The PVC-U frames look great and have cleaner, sharper lines ? we’re delighted with them.”

With the extension in place, Bedford High Schools now provides an airy dining space in which pupils are able to be seated and enjoy a more leisurely lunch. More meals and healthy options can now be served, increasing revenue for the school.

Ceri concludes: “The kids love it. The new space is also used for out of school activities such as prom fairs and fashion shows, as well as teaching throughout the day. We will add to it in time with internal lighting and heating, but for now it is fit-for-purpose and starting to pay for itself. It has totally revolutionised the school!”